Friday, September 28, 2007


The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms & Weapons, edited by Leonid Tarassuk & Claude Blair, defines a bowie knife as:

A hunting knife having a long blade with a cutting edge and a false cutting edge, a short hilt with the arms often ending in knobs, and a grip with wooden or horn sidepieces...It is...thought that Rezin Bowie produced a more advanced model of this knife in about 1830, with the help of a blacksmith from Arkansas by the name of James Black.

That's the most common description of a bowie knife, and a quick Google image search turned this up:

You can by the knife in the picture here.

According to Rezin Bowie, the first knife he gave to his brother was, "The length of the blade was nine and one-quarters inches, its width one and one-half inches, single edged and not curved."

Thanks to this excellent paper about Bowie's knife, I found this picture of an earlier style Bowie knife:

Over time, Rezin's knives started to take the more famous Bowie knife conformation. There are a few that James Black theoretically made for or with Rezin, including this one:

There are more pictures, and a more thorough history, at the paper I linked earlier.

Since everyone (Americans, at least) associates those knives with Jim Bowie, there have been a number of people who have picked up one of my father's knives, then dismissed it as "not period" because it's a Bowie knife.

The knife in question:

The problem is that Rezin Bowie and James Black were not the first blacksmiths to make knives that look like what we now call Bowie knives. To wit:

Seax blades. They've been found in digs dating from the 400's to the 1000's. There's good information on them here, as well as stuff about other weapons, as well.

I'm going to try to get back on a better posting schedule. I've still got a question to answer (sadly, I don't have much background in military history, so it's taking me a long time).

I'm also coming up with topics to post. I definitely need more information on the using of weapons, and I'm working on that. If there's anything you'd like to hear about, let me know.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What's In A Name

I've always been able to appreciate a good name for your weapon, but I've discovered while reading Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, & Pyrotechnics: the History of the Explosive that Changed the World, the Chinese handed the rest of the world their asses when it came to the best names for things that go boom.

To wit:
Dropping from Heaven Bomb
Match for Ten Thousand Enemies Bomb
Bandit-Burning Vision-Confusing Magic Fire-Ball
Bone-Burning and Bruising Fire Oil Magic Bomb
Bandit-Striking Penetrating Lance
Nine-Arrow Heart-Piercing Magic-Poison Thunderous Fre Erupter

Friday, September 7, 2007


Life's gone crazy, but I'm still reading and researching.

Currently being read: Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Weapons in the Ancient World. Awesome. My new favorite way to defeat an opposing army: poisoned honey.

I'm working on two things, mostly: answering a question and something about bowie knives and seax blades.

I will be back soon. Any suggestions for weapons to profile are welcomed. Just comment or send them to me at thedeadlypen at gmail dot com.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Check This Out:

I love the Zombie Hunters. It's an excellent comic, with really amazing art. There is strong language and gore, but...well, if you didn't guess that from the title, there's nothing I can do to help you.

Anyway, check out this comic, and the news post below it.

Good work.

I'm Torn...

There's so much to write about!

I'm still collecting information to answer one question, and I'm waiting on a book from the library that has me excited...I can't settle on one thing to write about.

In the meantime, I've come across a line in Weapon that has me looking for patterns:

Early medieval swords were heavy cutting weapons that were used to hack their way through mail. The development of high-quality plate armor encouraged the introduction of sharply pointed thrusting swords, whose blades became progressively longer.

I believe the history of weapons can be summed up by:

Gwark hits Grog on the head with a rock. Grog found a bigger rock and invented the helmet. This continued until we found ourselves with the nitrogen bomb.

If you are creating a new world, and you are adding weapons to it, you have to remember that for every newer, better way to do damage to someone, there came a newer, better way to protect yourself. There are undoubtedly gaps in discovery and creation, but it's constantly happening.

The current "to read" pile from the library includes:

  • Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, & Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive that Changed the World, by Jack Kelly

  • The Cambridge History of Warfare, edited by Geoffrey Parker

  • A History of Warfare, by John Keegan

  • The Complete Encylopedia of Arms & Weapons, edited by Leonid Tarassuk & Claude Blair

  • Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World: 3000 BC ~ AD 500: Equipment, Combat Skills, and Tactics, by Simon Anglim, Phyllis G. Jestice, Rob S. Rice, Scott M. Rusch, & John Serrati

  • Warfare: The Middle Ages 768 - 1487, by Nicholas Hooper & Matthew Bennett

Friday, August 24, 2007

Out Of Town

I'm going to be out of town until Sunday, and away from internet access. I've got a couple of new books from the library for research, and I'll try to have something interesting or useful by the time I get back.

In the meantime, on the thread of books with excellent use of weapons:

Hunter's Moon, by CT Adams and Cathy Clamp is an awesome book, and so are all the rest of the Sazi books. They are very worth the read, whether you're a girl or a guy. This was the book that convinced me that paranormal romance doesn't have to just be brain candy. From what I know, Tony's use of his weapons was very accurate without being distracting, and makes a good example of real weapons in a new world. And I love the Sazi culture, though you need to read more of the books to get a deeper look at it.

For the use of both real and fantasy weapons, and another excellent read, check out The Cage, by S.M. Stirling and Shirley Meier. I was enamored with Megan's knives from the moment they were mentioned in the book: her fingernails are actually steel, and can be sharpened and used like knives. Magic was used to make them grow naturally, drawing the iron from her blood, necessitating the eating of liver or drinking of fish oil to keep the iron up. The fights are breath-taking, and excellently written. Sh'Kaira's use of sword and compound bow both are an excellent example for anyone.

I don't think I'd have ever touched the book, if only because of the mention if it's being a novel of vengeance on the cover, except that it was recommended to me by someone with impeccable taste. I'm very glad I read it, and I even managed to scrounge up a copy of it (and the rest of the series) so I'd be able to read them again. If nothing else, the wing cats are awesome, there has never been a more bad-ass cat than Ten Knife Foot (and I usually am not fond of pets in novels, even if I'm surrounded by them), and I got some of my best insults ever from those books.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Magical Swords that Work

I read Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews not too long ago, and while I wasn't peering at every page for some sort of mistake, I do know that nothing leap off of the page and screamed that it was a stupid idea with enough frosting to make it look cool.

I liked Kate's sword, and the world building is very interesting. It made me want to go to Atlanta and compare with this new world.

It is fine to take real weapons and change them to suit your needs. Make them magical. Make them different, because your world is different. But if you've done any research on the real thing, then even if you never directly use any of that research, it shows in your writing, and it makes the read more enjoyable.

When I looked this up on Amazon, I saw a second book in the series, and I was briefly excited. Then I saw that it's not out until March so, sadly, I still have to wait.